Dear Flat Owner
I do hope you’ve had a pleasant summer and been able to enjoy the good weather in our garden. With autumn approaching, there are few matters I’d like to update you about.
Ashworth Mansions’ financial year begins on 29 September and I’m writing to let you know about the level of service charges for the coming 12 months. The total budget will rise by 3% from £669K to £687K.
As you know, we are currently in year two of a four-year refurbishment programme of the estate. As a reminder, we decided to stagger the work over four years in order to spread the cost to flat owners. Phase one, the Elgin Avenue frontage, is largely complete to our satisfaction and the contractors are currently finishing the last details. Phase two, the Grantully Road front and sides, is in full swing and progressing reasonably well. Overall project costs have been pretty much as predicted in the 10 year plan prepared by SHW in 2009, apart from the increase in VAT.
We plan to commence phase three, the rear of the Elgin Avenue blocks, next Spring and will raise a further £325K from flat owners to finance this. This sum is the same as we charged last year and is divided between the regular reserve fund contribution of £175K and a one-off special contribution of £150K. We expect to make similar charges in 2012 to fund phase four.
Once we get to 2013, our reserves will be dry but the estate will be in good shape for the future. At that point, we will need to decide how we make provision for the future cost of major works.
The main service charge will rise by £18K to £298K. The increase is driven primarily by a £14K hike our insurance charge to £78K, its highest level since kfh took over the management of the estate. This year’s premium is likely to reflect an ongoing series of claims for the costly repairs of leaks to the asbestos covered pipe-work of the hot water system. The overall main service charge increase is 6.5% as we have kept most other budget items flat. The heating and hot water service charge is unchanged at £63K including a £5K contribution to a reserve fund.
Heating and hot water
You will have seen my comments in previous letters about the communal heating and hot water system. In my view, we are reaching the point where we will need to take some serious decisions about the system; either to invest in upgrading it to 21st Century standards or to de-commission it and move to an independent boiler in each flat. The number of leaks appearing in the hot water pipes since we installed the new hot water boilers has increased the urgency.
We have commissioned an independent engineers report and will hold a flat owners’ meeting on the subject towards the end of September. If you own a flat on the system, you will be receiving a copy of the report and a note of the meeting in due course.
Cold water mains
28 flats have now connected to the new cold water mains and are benefiting from high pressure supply 24/7. The remaining 76 flats are still fed by gravity from the tanks in the attics above each stairwell.
These tanks cost money to maintain – they are regularly inspected and cleaned – and are now very close to the end of their natural lives. We’re told that it will cost £80K to replace these tanks and it’s expenditure we’re anxious to avoid. If you have made the switch, please talk to your neighbours and encourage them to connect.
Many thanks to Pamela Knudson and Charlotte Wood for organizing the summer garden party. Everyone had a fine time and we’re grateful to kfh and Greene & Co for their financial support of the event. We now have a couple of small gazebos and a new barbecue that you’re welcome to use for small social gatherings. Daron can tell you more
Chair, Ashworth Mansions Ltd